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OP/ED

Is Conscious Capitalism ready for prime time?

Posted on May 19, 2019 at 9:20 AM

Breaking out of the pack!

By Dr. Larry Fedewa (May 18,2019)

I confess that I have caught the fervor of a convert to a new movement. As I write, speak and broadcast about Conscious Capitalism, I feel like Paul Revere as I keep hearing "Wow! I never heard of Conscious Capitalism but it sure sounds like the answer to a lot of our problems!" Among others, this is the reaction of my fellow talk show hosts who are generally very well informed.

On the other hand, however, the reform of Capitalism is much discussed and written about. Some examples from Amazon's Books: Joel Solomon's "Clean Money - reinventing power, purpose and capitalism"; Frederic Laloux's Reinventing Organizations, and Everybody Matters by Bob Chapman with Raj Sisodia (love that title).

Then, there is Joseph E. Stigliz' "Progressive Capitalism" (WSJ, April 19, 2019); a label shared with Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) whose uses it to describe a concept closer to Conscious Capitalism than to Stigliz' dreary views. And, of course, the opposition still flourishes in Nick Beans' "The Fraud of Progressive Capitalism" World Socialist web site (28 April, 2019), which by the way sounds like Karl Marx with 21st century inserts. There is no room in Beams' world for an honest capitalist.

I am coming to the conclusion that the so-called Socialist trend among younger Americans which is so widely reported by the news and pollsters is really a popular name for opposition to what I have been calling the "wealth gap", i.e. the inequality of wages and other assets between the very rich and the rest of us.

This disparity is causing an expanding demand for a solution. For big government liberals, the answer is another government program, whether the guaranteed $1,000 per adult citizen of Andrew Wang or the ever- expanding welfare state of Bernie Sanders. I doubt if very many so-called supporters of "Socialism" could even define the term. They are not true Socialists; they are simply angry Americans.

They, like so many of us, have never heard of a capitalist solution to the wealth gap. Well, it's time they did! I propose Conscious Capitalism as the best way to answer that question, because it already has a history of practical accomplishment, an organizational structure, a literature describing it, and - most of all a legion of 1600 companies employing 3,000,000 people. The movement includes such outstanding companies as Southwest Airlines, Federal Express, Whole Foods and Starbucks. The best way to describe the organization is in their own words:

Conscious Capitalist Credo

"We believe that business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence, and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity. Free enterprise capitalism is the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. It is one of the most compelling ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to even more.

Conscious Capitalism is a way of thinking about capitalism and business that better reflects where we are in the human journey, the state of our world today, and the innate potential of business to make a positive impact on the world. Conscious businesses are galvanized by higher purposes that serve, align, and integrate the interests of all their major stakeholders. Their higher state of consciousness makes visible to them the interdependencies that exist across all stakeholders, allowing them to discover and harvest synergies from situations that otherwise seem replete with trade-offs. They have conscious leaders who are driven by service to the company's purpose, all the people the business touches, and the planet we all share together. Conscious businesses have trusting, authentic, innovative and caring cultures that make working there a source of both personal growth and professional fulfillment. They endeavor to create financial, intellectual, social, cultural, emotional, spiritual, physical and ecological wealth for all their stakeholders.

Conscious businesses will help evolve our world so that billions of people can flourish, leading lives infused with passion, purpose, love and creativity; a world of freedom, harmony, prosperity, and compassion." (See www.consciouscapitalism.com)

This movement is idealistic, but it works. Religion is also idealistic, but it does carry a club. We all know that humans are capable not only of great good but also of great evil. One of the greatest achievements of American capitalism has been its success in limiting the excesses of capitalism. The two major forces restraining American capitalism have been laws and unions. And the way to a disciplined capitalist system in this country has been led by organized labor. Labor has been responsible for the elimination of child labor, for the 40-hour work week, for due process in firing, paid vacations, pensions and health care. It is time for Labor to take up it rightful role in reforming capitalism.

There are only two options to the distribution of wealth in this country: the coercion of government using the tax system, or voluntary reform of capitalism through a re-definition of workers' rights to include profit sharing. In Conscious Capitalism, the entire supply chain is deemed responsible for the success or failure of a business. As the major contributor to that supply chain, labor deserves a major share - either way. Conscious companies understand that equation. The difference between today's standard and the reform standard is the size and form of the labor share. That is yet to be determined, and it undoubtedly will differ according to circumstances. The best way to develop a mutually agreeable outcome for both sides is through collective bargaining.

And the role of the union is critical, because its role is non-governmental. It is the first line of defense. Only if it fails does government get involved through lawsuits and enforcement. The private sector remains private, and freedom continues to reign.

Let's do it!

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